Due to the expected benefits, governments around the world have spent a lot of effort to move to digital channels. However, the supply of services has not always been matched by the demand for them. To stimulate adoption, countries have employed a variety of tools: from raising awareness of e-government generally to regulation mandating that communications between public sector agencies and users are conducted online. Despite investment, people with disabilities are still facing accessibility barriers. For example screen reader users used to read the content out loud , rely on the website to be properly designed. For such use, an answer option seen as “Yes/No” needs to be coded properly, otherwise the screen reader will may be able to read it as “Alternative1/Alternative2”.
In Europe, only about 10% of all public sector websites are considered fully accessible to people with disabilities. This is a major barrier to those who wish to access services digitally. It is also a problem for public sector agencies as it limits e-government adoption. Various tools have been developed through the years to automatically check web accessibility; however, they are not able to cover the full range of tests and must be supplemented by manual testing.
To help meet the web accessibility challenge, the European Internet Inclusion Initiative (EIII) developed a new type of benchmarking approach. In this effort, we explored:
- The big picture: Interviews with policy-makers and experts about web accessibility.
- Combined testing approach: The EIII benchmarking tool combines automated and user testing to reap the benefits of both approaches.
- Initial results: Preliminary results based on the EIII automated testing tool of 1,065 European public sector websites.
Benchmarking exercises should always be interpreted with caution and the ATT only covers about 20% of all web accessibility test. But it is hoped that the initial findings will help to raise awareness of web accessibility and provide an opportunity to combine the ATT and UTT in a new way to the benefit of disabled citizens and governments alike. Full report for download.
EIII panel on WSIS Forum in Geneva 2. May
Details from the EIII report and further recent development will be presented in a panel at the WSIS Forum 2016 in Geneva on 2. May. See the panel program.